Skip to main content

Study information

Art in Greek Society

Module titleArt in Greek Society
Module codeCLA3113
Academic year2019/0
Module staff

Professor Barbara Borg (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Module description

Greek art has been much admired in modern days, but it also was an essential part of ancient social life, religion, and politics. The Greeks were well aware of the impact that the visual had on its viewers, and used it to honour the gods, promote themselves, and express individual and collective identities. This module will look at a range of different forms of art (including sculpture, vase painting, and architecture), and a range of different contexts in which art was used and displayed. We shall discuss what art meant to the ancient Greeks, and how it can help the modern historian to better understand Greek ideologies and value systems.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module will explore various genres of Greek art and their physical, social and ideological contexts. It will ask, and suggest answers to questions such as: What was the purpose of art? How was it viewed by the people of antiquity? What does art tell us about the societies who made and viewed it? The course aims to encourage critical thinking about the purpose of studying art as a tool for understanding ancient cultural ideologies and about the use of visual images in our modern world.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate knowledge of a wide selection of relevant primary material from the Greek world, and critical skills for analysing and discussing such material in its social context

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 2. You should be able to demonstrate sophisticated critical and analytical skills in analysing art and other visual material, which can be applied to a wide range of ancient and modern cultures
  • 3. You should have learned how material culture enhances our understanding of past societies

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Demonstrate independent research skills; you should also be able to show a broader awareness of issues involved in thinking about art and society
  • 5. Demonstrate skills in the construction, organisation and presentation of an argument in both written and oral form, and in using PowerPoint presentations to visually support their arguments
  • 6. Demonstrate skills in the construction, organisation and presentation of an argument in both written and oral form, and in using PowerPoint presentations to visually support their arguments
  • 7. Demonstrate the ability to work in groups

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

Why should Historians study ‘Art’?, Interpreting Narrative Images, Art and the Greek Polis, Temples and Sanctuaries, Political Space, Individual and Society: Portrait Monuments, Tomb monuments, Rome's appropriation of Greek art.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching2211 x 2 hour seminars
Guided independent study128Private study and preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Not applicableNot applicableNot applicableNot applicable

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Oral presentation2015 minutes1-6Verbal feedback
Essay303000 words1-5Written feedback
Examination502 hours1-5Written feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Oral presentationOral presentation1-6Referral/Deferral period
EssayEssay1-5Referral/Deferral period
ExaminationExamination1-5Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Indicative reading:

  • Boardman, J.: The Oxford history of classical art (Oxford 1993).
  • Castriota, D.: Myth, Ethos, and Actuality: Official Art in Fifth Century BC Athens (Madison, 1992).
  • Coltman, V. (ed.), Making sense of Greek art (Exeter 2011).
  • Hurwit, J.M.: The Acropolis in the age of Pericles (Cambridge 2004).
  • Neer, R.T.: Art & archaeology of the Greek World: a new history, c.2500-c.150 BCE (London 2012).
  • Osborne, R.: Archaic and Classical Greek Art (Oxford – New York, 1998).
  • Rasmussen, T. and Spivey, N. (eds.), Looking at Greek Vases (Cambridge – New York 1991).
  • Rodríguez Pérez (ed.), Greek art in context: archaeological and art historical perspectives (London 2017).
  • Shapiro, H.A. (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Archaic Greece (New York 2007).
  • Smith, T.J. and Platzos, D. (eds), A companion to Greek art (Malden, MA 2012).
  • Stewart, A.F.: Greek Sculpture: An Exploration (New Haven – London, 1990).
  • Stewart, A.: Classical Greece and the birth of Western art (Cambridge 2008).

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Classics, Greek, Art

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date